Organizations seem to rush into virtual worlds with little planning or forethought and then wonder why their virtual world experience was a failure. In fact, according to the technology analyst firm Gartner, nine out of 10 virtual world projects fail within 18 months. I am not surprised. Like any initiative, a plan and purpose is needed to make the venture work. If you are just in it because everyone else is "in-world" or you think it might be neat, then you are in it for the wrong reasons.
Here is a great article highlighting some "lessons learned" for creating a successful virtual world presence called Corporate virtual worlds implode at hyper speed
1) The transition from a traditional web presence to a virtual world presence marks the transition from webpages to web places and a successful virtual presence starts with people. If you don't have something for people to do or experience in an interactive way then people will not stay. These are social networks or experiential learning environments...a design set up so avatars can just loiter or hang out doesn't work. See my post Scripting a Virtual World Learning Event.
2)An effective virtual world project starts by focusing on the audience’s needs and ultimately delivering the technology to support the community of people. It doesn't start by focusing on the technology (no learning process should ever start that way...none.)
3) Realistic graphics and physical behaviour count for little unless the presence is valued by and engaging to the target audience. (which means some research is needed to determine if the target audience values or needs to be in a virtual world or if they are comfortable learning in that environment).
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